You and your digital marketing team recently discovered that you have been the victim of click fraud. Your immediate task is to figure out where it is coming from and how to stop it. Be prepared to be surprised by who might be perpetrating this crime against you.
Also known as ad fraud, click fraud is a serious crime that costs digital advertisers tens of billions of dollars annually. Most cases are perpetrated by illicit publishing platforms that exist only to rip off advertisers. Yet there are two types of people who commit click fraud despite the fact that few advertisers suspect them of doing it. They are described below.
As you read, bear in mind that a good click fraud protection software package can uncover all types of ad fraud so that you can put a stop to it. Fraud Blocker is just one example. There are also subscription services that do the same thing.
Perpetrator #1: The Competitor
We human beings have a tendency to think the best of people. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except for the fact that we can be thrown for a loop after discovering that someone we trusted stabbed us in the back. This sort of thing happens all the time in business.
When it comes to click fraud, business owners do not necessarily expect their competitors to do such a thing. But guess what? They do. The Fraud Blocker folks say that click fraud perpetrated by competitors is actually pretty common.
Winning By Causing Harm
Committing click fraud as a competitor is all about winning the battle by inflicting harm on the other guy. A company might engage a number of click fraud bots programmed to seek out competitor ads and endlessly click on them. Likewise, a less sophisticated method could be used. A company might assign a small number of employees to spend a few days clicking competing ads.
Regardless of how it is done, the point is to inflict harm on a competitor by depleting that company’s advertising budget. Endlessly clicking ads without producing sales does just that. It is a sly and nefarious strategy that can be quite effective.
Perpetrator #2: The Unhappy Customer
A second type of person businesses might not expect to commit click fraud is the unhappy customer. Granted, unhappy customers do not fake ad click as often as competitors and illicit ad publishers, but they still do it. Why?
Unhappy customers willing to commit ad fraud are generally out for revenge. They are going after a company they feel has done them wrong. They want to get even by running up ad clicks for which there will be no associated sales.
This type of click fraud requires customers who understand how PPC advertising works. Not many consumers have that knowledge, so it’s rare for customer-perpetrated ad fraud to completely deplete an advertiser’s budget.
Being Proactive Is the Best Defense
So how do you prevent these two groups of people from killing your advertising budget through click fraud? By being proactive. You do it by constantly paying attention to analytics that point to potential fraud. And when any sign of fraud pops up, you immediately address it.
A variety of strategies can help you root out and stop click fraud. They include click fraud protection software, negative keyword lists, IP address blocking, and timestamp monitoring.
Click fraud can be perpetrated by the most unlikely of suspects. That is the nature of the crime. But advertisers can fight back with the right tools and a little bit of knowledge about how PPC works.